Twenty-Five Blackbirds, part two

First was Jenny darling, apple of all eyes.

On swift and careless wings did she fly to her demise.

Young Diego tripped and fell upon the ground,

Several hungry wolves made sure that he was never found.

Diego is the youngest of us. He had been around far longer than I. Don’t give me that look, that’s just how it works. He is Young Diego of the Shining Eyes. So regardless of how many of us moved on or joined, he was always going to be the kid. Of course, last I saw, they put the nail in one of his shiners, so he might be Young Diego One-eyed now. Hard to say.

In any case, Diego’s trick was the standard will-o’-the-wisp gambit, but with a twist. You’ve heard the story of the boy who cried wolf? Yeah, those stories started because of Diego. Folk nowadays have it in their head that they are supposed to be cautionary tales against lying. Used to be that they were warnings against a much more physical threat.

See, years past, Diego would pull his routine, be the little boy on the edge of town, crying about the monsters coming to take the herds. When they farmers rushed out to fend off the wolves, the mist would close in. Then Diego would lead them on a merry chase, dancing about as they tried to follow his shining peepers through the bog. The lucky ones fell and woke up the next day with a bump on their heads. The unlucky ones were never heard from again. Diego has a bit of a nasty streak.

Those stories started as a precaution, saying it was better to lose a sheep or two than follow the cries of wolf into the night. Of course, they’ve had much less to worry about since Diego got bored and found our service, but the lesson remains. Or doesn’t, since the meaning has become twisted with retelling.

I can’t rightly say what caused Diego to join us. His methods are pretty straightforward though. Cry wolf in the night, and we get in and out unnoticed while the villagers are stumbling about in the fog. Which may be created by Diego, or summoned when he’s playing his trick, or maybe he even becomes the fog. I never was quite sure, but didn’t bother to ask. It worked.

In any case, if you are undertaking this task, know that you must always stick to the roads while travelling. If an unnatural fog sweeps over your camp, stay put and wait for morning. Whatever you do, don’t follow the lights.

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